Campus Celebrity: Jordan Burton

Jordan Burton, a sophomore at Duke University, is a member of the varsity track and cross-country teams. He earned a varsity letter for his freshman campaign and was selected for the ACC academic honor roll. Here, he shares his background in running, his life at Duke and how he manages a varsity sport with a full class load.

How did you first get involved in running?

In middle school, I was one of the few kids to run the entire warm-up (about 800 meters) during gym and I almost always finished it first. Because of this, the man who then became my high school coach said I should go out for track and cross-country (though I didn’t get involved in cross country until my sophomore year).

Did you always know you wanted to run on the collegiate level?

Definitely not. I actually only agreed to do track in order to stay in shape for soccer and basketball. It wasn’t until late into my sophomore year that I really broke out as a high-level athlete. Late into my junior year is when I realized that running successfully in college is a very real option for me and the responses I got from colleges that I contacted was overwhelming. My high school coach and I never really thought that I would make it this far, and the plan is to just keep getting better.

Why did you choose Duke?

I forewent my last four official visits because when I got onto campus and I knew that it was the perfect place. The other option I narrowed it down to in my final decision was Columbia. Comparatively, Duke is in a smaller setting. The team dynamic I felt amongst team members was amazing and I had already known a couple people on the team. The way they spent their time (board games, card games, etc.) was how I loved to spend my time hanging out, which is something that I value. Not to mention that Duke has an amazing academic history, which also played a large role in my choice.

What is your training here like?

In high school, I was very speed oriented, and therefore did a lot of interval work. I was at about 30-35 miles a week if I had to guess. The biggest transition of training for me going into freshmen year was bumping my mileage up to about 50 miles a week consistently with longer and harder interval workouts 3 times a week. Now, as a sophomore, I’ve bumped my mileage up to 65 a week and plan on gradually increasing consistently until probably 85-90 miles a week by the end of my career here.

What awards/honors have you won?

Well I actually managed to win my very first race in college! It was pretty awesome. I’ve also managed to earn a varsity letter for my freshmen campaign, which isn’t something I necessarily expected since there are often high standards for getting a varsity letter, so it’s something I’m very proud of achieving. I was also selected for the ACC academic honor roll and was selected for the USTFCCCA All Academic list, which I believe only 529 male athletes across the US achieved. 

What's your favorite post workout meal?

I would say that a bottle of strawberry milk/milkshake and probably a well-done burger would be my favorite post workout meal.

What's your favorite part of being on the track team?

Everyone is so different and dynamic. Everyone is on the team because they have goals and a drive to succeed and I believe that you inherit traits of those you surround yourself around. By surrounding myself with all these driven people, it makes me want to succeed and work harder than I am currently. I think it makes me a better person, and I also have people I can rely on.

How do you balance work and school?

I actually have two jobs, as well, so it’s pretty difficult to balance things. But on the flip side my schedule is so rigid that everything more or less balances itself out. Last year balancing my time was easy since I had more free time but this year I find myself budgeting my time between important classes, i.e. focusing on a class I have a test in and not finishing homework in another class. Practice is always at a set time so that makes it somewhat easy to budget my time, though practice can run over occasionally. Scheduling meetings is extremely difficult though due to the rigidity of my schedule.

Fun fact about you:

I’ve been playing the flute for nine years and the piccolo for four, and I actually almost quit running midway through my sophomore year because of it. I had a period in which I really wanted to pursue music and flute performance, but ultimately decided that I was better at running and I enjoyed being around the people on my high school team more than those in the band.

What's your favorite activity to do in your free time?

I am an avid napper. Sometimes you’ve just gotta step back and relax, and there’s no better way to do that than to just pass out. I am also a strong advocate of board games and card games, as well as meeting new people, which I like to think I excel at despite my awkward personality.